"The first thing you need to know about Laurie is that he’s an audiophile’s audiophile. He’s an engineer, music lover, and also a musician..."
"Instead of building upon existing technologies, Laurie and his team decided to design a better amplifier technology from the ground up."
"We didn’t invent or reinvent the amplifier. Instead, we looked at the shortcomings, the physics, and developed a technology to deal with that. We were motivated to do better. We didn’t stop."
“We’ve been working on the amplifier since 2006 ...
DAC2 HGC - "Sound Quality - hey... Wow!"
"A high grade, high resolution, highly neutral DAC is an essential foundation point for any music system. If you are a serious music lover (you do not have to be a professional, or call yourself an audiophile), who wants to get the very most out of your playback system, I think you owe it to yourself to check out the Benchmark Media Systems DAC2 HGC."
"If you are interested in assembling an audio system to playback high resolution audio, the DAC2 is an essential starting point. You will need the exceptionally low noise, high linearity and exceptional clarity that this DAC has to offer before you can enjoy everything that high resolution digital audio has to offer."
- Rob Stewart, JustMastering.com
"I rely on the DAC1 for monitoring in audio restoration and mastering. I am lost without it. I have used it, along with the ADC1, 8 hours a day, five days a week since 2005."
"I used the DAC1 and Samplitude in the “OLD-TIME SMOKY MOUNTAIN MUSIC” CD which was nominated in 2013 for a Grammy in historic recording."
John T. Fleenor, Archives Of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University
AHB2 - "Redefines the Word 'Transparency'"
"Benchmark and THX have clearly set out to produce the most accurate amplifier possible, free of the colorations - euphonic or otherwise - that we've come to expect from most amplifiers."
"The difficulty in creating an "accurate" amplifier, as opposed to a "euphonic" one, is that an accurate amplifier's designer must make absolutely certain the amplifier doesn't add any unpleasant character of its own. In this regard, the AHB2 is a resounding success."
"The most immediately striking characteristic of the amplifier is the jaw-dropping level of detail and resolution. The AHB2 redefines the word "transparency" and will make many competing amplifiers sound veiled and foggy by comparison."
"The speed of this amplifier gives percussion instruments a crisp, well-defined quality."
"This amplifier's performance in the bass is nothing short of phenomenal - easily the best I've ever heard"
"The AHB2 delivers the entire envelope of sound with incredible precision and realism."
- Gary Galo, audioXpress
AHB2 - "I was struck by just how much focus and clarity was on offer"
"This is an amplifier with very serious slam, and – even better for those with less sensitive speakers, big rooms or just a hankering for ‘just in front of the PA stack’ listening levels – it keeps it all together however loud you decide to play things."
"If that doesn't make you smile every time you listen, I don't know what will."
- Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News
"... the widest A-wtd S/N ratio of any amplifier I've measured in some 30 years."
- Paul Miller, Hi-Fi News
AHB2 - "A solid and convincing image"
"From the get-go, the amp lives up to its design specs by providing a very clean presentation. The Benchmark does a good job of layering vocals and instruments in all dimensions, with each element supported by a solid and convincing image."
"As desired in a studio setting, the sonics from the AHB2 are neutral, and in my home setup, there is no observable emphasis in any particular frequency range."
"Regardless of music type, bass through the Benchmark offers a taught presentation with the snap and punch one expects from percussion. Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” is engaging through the AHB2, with all the subtle synthesized sounds popping into position in the soundstage."
-Rob Johnson, Tone Audio, December 2014, pages 122 - 129
"In the end, the Benchmark AHB2 can become a great anchor to your system, offering high performance in a compact box. With an extremely neutral tonal balance, you can use it straight, or warm it up with a tube preamplifier, should that be your preference."
"The AHB2 is a stellar performer from a company known for excellence."
- Jeff Dorgay, Tone Audio, December 2014, pages 130 - 131
SMS1 - "An excellent pro-caliber passive monitor"
"The SMS1 is an excellent pro-caliber passive monitor. It’s what I expect from a Benchmark product."
"The compact Benchmark SMS1 is an impressive, two-way crossover speaker with Benchmark’s typical attention to quality. Its compact size makes it easy to place, and it is suitable for many kinds of listening environments. Standout characteristics include vocal clarity and imaging."
"The Benchmark SMS1 is a first rate speaker. It goes on my list of recommended small speakers and recipient of the Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
AHB2 - "EAN 2014 Product of the Year"
"The Benchmark AHB2 gets the award because its design pushes the spec envelope of power amplifiers."
"It is no longer enough to have 100 dB S/N ratio (or worse) spec’d amplifiers when you have the Benchmark measuring in excess of 130 dB! That is better than the majority of DACs can perform. It is digital performance from an analog amp."
"And the amp sounds great as well — a very neutral analog sound with tight bass and gracious stereo image."
"Throw in the reasonable price tag, and its award status is a no-brainer."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
AHB2 - "Unfaltering and Thrilling Performance"
"The AHB2 and the ML10Bs came through with unfaltering and thrilling performance every time."
"Immediately I heard that the AHB2 reproduced the recordings ambient space captured (or added artificially) as open and wide with reverb tails hearable down to the recording's noise floor."
"There was a pristine and smooth quality to the high and middle frequencies ..."
"With the AHB2 there was an overall vibrancy and transparency not a hyped, bright sound."
"As compared to my powered monitors, working on mixes in Pro Tools HD 11 through this system sounds more real, detailed and clear. In addition, this is a dead quiet--noiseless system. With no music playing, I could crank the DAC2 Ls volume control wide-open and hear nothing--even with my ear right on the speaker cone!"
"There is only one word for the new Benchmark Media Systems AHB2 power amplifier: impressive. I highly recommend it!"
- Barry Rudolph, Mix, December 2014
AHB2 - "Dynamic, open, with quick, taut bass - yet with the silky ease of the best tube amp"
"Like the Benchmark D/As and A/D, the company believes that great measurements correlate to great sound. In the case of the AHB2 I totally agree."
"The AHB2’s sonic character is dynamic, open, with quick, taut bass - yet with the silky ease of the best tube amp. But tube amps don’t have the energy and speed in the transients, nor bass, that the Benchmark possesses."
"I can’t wait to get two more for a full-high-end home cinema amp test in my big A/V room. For now, based on mostly stereo listening, it receives, with certainty, an Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
AHB2 - "Lowest noise and distortion power amp I have measured"
"The new Benchmark AHB2 is the result of considerable research and patents on its resultant circuitry. The intent was to make it an ultra low distortion design. I would have to say they succeeded as it is the lowest noise and distortion power amp I have measured and I have measured a LOT of power amps in my career."
"The S/N ratio was about 131.6 dB. Pretty impressive, and this is the lowest output noise level I have seen in any power amplifier I have measured! (Editor's note: Benchmark measured 3 dB better when input was terminated with 60 Ohm impedance input.)"
"When connected in bridge mode, power was close to 400W into an 8 ohm load."
- Bascom H. King, BHK Labs
DAC2 HGC - "Competes and wins against anything at any price"
"Several readers have asked me how the OPPO HA-1 stacks up against my Benchmark DAC2 HGC. I can say that I love both but…"
"The Benchmark DAC2 HGC is a reference quality converter and functions as well as a preamplifier. It competes...and wins...against anything at any price ..."
ADC1 - "Provides a sure fire way to get a jitter-free recording"
"In my experience, the ADC1 provided a solid and clear image of my stereo ORTF mics and Omni Flank mics. When paired with a clean mic preamp (Grace, Crane Song Flamingo) you can rest assured that what you hear is what you get."
"From Orchestral Recording to Sound Effects, the Benchmark Media ADC1 provides a sure fire way to get a jitter-free recording, not to mention a great dynamic range."- HIFIQC
DAC2 HGC - "Offered one of the highest resolutions I have measured"
"Note that I've had to extend the vertical scale to –160 dBFS to reveal the noise floor. The drop in the level of the noise floor with 24-bit data indicates that the DAC2 offers 21-bit resolution, which is state-of-the-art performance."
"With the very low level of noise and superb linearity, the DAC2's reproduction of an undithered 16-bit tone at exactly –90.31 dBFS was essentially perfect."
"Even driving a very demanding 600 ohm load, the DAC2 offered very low levels of analog distortion, with the third harmonic the highest in level, at –116 dB (0.00015%). Other than the second and fifth, all the other harmonics lie at close to –130 dB. Intermodulation distortion was also superbly low, again even into 600 ohms."
"Summing up the Benchmark DAC2 HGC's measured performance is easy: It's simply superb."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
AHB2 - "Amazing clarity, but no over the top edginess"
"The Benchmark brings out nuances of reverb, quick percussive guitar attack with amazing clarity, but no over the top edginess..."
"The -130 dB noise/dynamic range just gets us that much closer to the live music signature that we yearn to hear from our beloved electronics."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
DAC2 HGC - "Inspired me to just listen to music for hours on end"
"To my surprise, all of those words that audiophiles & engineers use to describe sound (depth, detail, focus, realism, etc) were even better with the DAC2 when compared to the DAC1."
"Several years ago I bought a Benchmark DAC1 to replace the built in converters of my RME Multiface II interface. This was a revelation for me as the difference was more than just subtle."
"The DAC2 HGC inspired me to just listen to music for hours on end and get lost in sonic bliss - that is a testament to its quality."
- captainj, Gearslutz
DAC2 HGC - "This company is called Benchmark for a reason."
"The original DAC1 was aimed squarely at professionals, but was subsequently embraced by the audiophile market. It remains an excellent D-A converter, and its ability to completely isolate interface jitter sets it apart from most D-As, including some of the much more costly models. However, digital audio technology continues to make incremental improvements, and in the eight years since I reviewed the DAC1 the state of the art has clearly advanced."
"The DAC2 HGC is undoubtedly a major step forward in technical performance compared to its forebear and, although it costs almost double the price of a DAC1, it does also offer a lot of additional features and facilities."- Hugh Robjohns, Sound On Sound
DAC2 HGC - "The bottom line ... good for any mastering or recording project"
"With all the headphones I had available the DAC2 headphone amp rivaled the sonics of the stand-alone iFi iCan headphone amplifier ..."
"For me the bottom line on the Benchmark DAC2 HGC is that is it not only good enough to live with long-term, it’s good enough to use for any mastering or recording projects that might come up."
"The DAC2 HGC is easy to listen through, highly revealing, and with well-recorded material astonishingly three-dimensional."
- Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound
DAC2 HGC - "I would put the new Benchmark unit against any 2-channel D/A on the market"
"The original Benchmark DAC1 has been used to master many Grammy-winning and chart-topping records. It is hard to imagine that even better performance has been squeezed out of that box, but the DAC2 HGC does that."
"More than an updated faceplate on the original DAC1, the DAC2 HGC offers its own reference sound that will be welcome in the listening environments of both audio engineers and audiophiles."
"Personally, I would put the new Benchmark unit against any 2-channel D/A on the market."
- Garrett Haines, Tape Op
DAC2 HGC - "Far more refined than its price would suggest"
"The DAC2 HGC uses one of the best digital chipsets on the market today to produce a quality of sound that, until a few years ago, wasn't available for less than $10,000."
"It sounds far more refined than its price would suggest, and when you consider that it can serve as the keystone of a digital and analog system, on a desktop or in a listening room, it becomes all the more remarkable."
- Hans Wetzel, SoundStage! Access